knot Examples of Illuminated Manuscript Knots knot

There are some knots from the Book of Kells here.

I have copied these knots from the book Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Painting by Carl Nordenfalk. I have not seen the originals. They are not necessarily to scale.

There are some borders from the Durham Gospel, an early book, in the dots method description.

knot knot This is the border of a 'carpet' page in the Book of Durrow. It is down the left and right hand edges, but I've laid it on its side as it fits the computer screen better. The original colouring makes it look like two rows of knots, but my colour version shows it to be a lot more complicated. There are two strands which entangle each other. I'm not sure what the rwo middle cross-overs should be. I've made them green, but they are holes in the original!

This cross is on the same carpet page as the previous. There are four of these crosses. Two are this pattern and the other two are similar, except they have greek keys in the corners of the centre. There are two strands. They are implied by only drawing the edges, but each pair of edges go under and other alike, unlike the independent edges in some of the Book of Kells patterns. knot knot

knot knot This is the main part of the Book of Durrow carpet page. The crosses described above fit into the black areas in the corners. I can't put them in, since in my versions they are to different scales! The colouring is, to some extent, guess-work, since there are several holes in the original. This may be the pigment used for green, verdigris, a cooper acetate which seems to have eaten away the vellum.

The original colouring is very attractive, but it's a little difficult to see how the pattern was designed. My colouring shows that there is one strand knitting everything together, with four more in the corners. Then there are separate loops for each knot.

This is a broad boarder on another page in the Book of Durrow. The original is smoother. Computers are not very good at curves! The design of knots has gaps, which are filled with triangles. The green verdigris pigment has again caused holes. The colouring shows pairs of knots, but my colouring shows that there are four strands. knot

This is a filler for an illuminated capital initial in the Book of Durrow. The original is vertical (with the left-hand side of the above being the top). As you can see, it's not symmetrical, although I wonder if it was supposed to be! The different widths of the strings give an interesting effect. The thick strings have red dots.

knot This is from the border of a carpet page from the Book of Durrow. I think that the border of white round the yellow doesn't bring out the contrast of the overlapping strings enough. My colouring shows how complicated it is. There are four different strings in the design. knot

knot This is another bit from the same border. The green colouring in the centre does tie the design together. It is made of two strings. knot

knot This is in the centre of the carpet page above. There are eight of these knots joined together in various ways. I have changed it a little, since I have taken out the joinings. Also, in the original, the lines are distorted a little to make the pattern straight, rather than leaning to the left. There is only one string, but I have split the colouring to show how the knot works. knot

knot This is part of another border. It is an interesting mixture of square and curved knots. The green in the original emphasises the inner circle, but the red and yellow colouring are not identical - the yellow has a little bit of red in it. There are two strings. My first colouring (on the right) shows this, but destroys the curves and diagonals. The second colouring tries to high-light them. knot knot

knot This is a corner from a 'carpet page' from the Book of Lindisfarne. The carpet page features a cross, with filling and background of wonderful interlaced animals which I can't possibly reporduce. Even this corner is more flowing in the original. The knot is not symmetrical.
The string has two strands which weave independently of each other. There are three different strings (see right). In two (the red and green ones), the two strands are separate. However the blue is one strand which return to form the other half of the string.
knot This is a flourish which is repeated four times round the edge of the same carpet page. Again, the original is more flowing. It has larger strands and is more distinct than the previous knot, and is coloured (left) to show some of its structure. This colouring does not reflect the actual strings, however. There is only one string. I have coloured half in purple and half in pink to show how the knot is put together. knot

Links to other websites

Late Antique & Mediaeval Manuscripts including the Durham Gospel
Gallery of the Medieval Scriptorium showing images of the Lindisfarne Gospels

Return to Knots index.

© Jo Edkins 2003